I’ve both been disappointed and pleasantly surprised by the quality of images on travel blogs. Although more than handful of travel bloggers also call themselves photographers, it’s a term that gets tossed around too lightly. This week, I scanned through 50 travel blogs and made a list of tips that could improve their images, here are the most common 8:
1. Say something with your images
Photography is a visual tool to communicate. We make a statement by what we photograph, and what we choose to leave out. Don’t pointlessly raise your camera every time someone else does. Think about what you want to say about your trip, then decide how you will say it through your images.
2. Don’t over edit
Too many bloggers overedit their images. Please, we all know that the sky is not green and that building is not blue. You’re not fooling anyone. Look at the images of truly great photographers and study magazines to train your eye to recognize what a good image looks like. Take a photoshop class with Blogshop or checkout this ebook Photoshop for Bloggers.
3. It’s not about how expensive the camera
Too many bloggers are only interested in the camera. I get a ton of emails that go something like “Hi Tracy, I’m going on a big trip to XYZ city, what lens should I get?” I’m a big advocate for vision over gear. It’s not about the camera, it’s about how you use the tools you have and how you convey your vision using that tool. So don’t worry about the camera, go on your trip with a point and shoot and practice crafting the foundations of photography – composition, understanding aperture, exposure, and ISO – before making the big financial investment on a great camera.
4. Keep a travel journal
Much like how travel writers keep a journal with them to document their thoughts and to remember the occurrences throughout the day, travel photographers do this as well. Write down the name of the person you photographed, the restaurant you ate at, or some brief history of the landmark you visited. This will be a great resource when you start to write your blog post.
5. Respect local culture and people
I think most travel bloggers have enough travel maturity under their belt to expect local cultures when traveling, but this is especially important for photography. If you’re taking pictures of locals, make sure they are comfortable with you doing so. In some cultures, it’s tradition to build rapport over tea or pay respects over prayer before any business is done.
6. Photograph context
Adding some context to your images can do wonders to set the tone of the image and show the environment you’re in. In this image shot on Jostedal glacier in Norway, I pulled the lens out as wide as I could to showcase the vastness of nature.
7. Think of the blog post
Let’s face it. You’re a travel blogger which means when you are taking pictures on the road, you are taking them for your blog. So think about the blog post you want to write when you are photographing. How will you lay out the post? Do you want a lot of horizontal shots or only vertical shots? Will you be doing a collage of the images, in which case you need a lot of different angles? Editorial photographers do this when they are on the job, they think about the magazine, the gutter, and which image might make a great cover, which could be a double-page spread. You can train yourself to think the same way, which will help you out when you layout the blog post.
8. Enjoy the moment
I believe some moments are not meant to be captured, they are meant to be lived. Don’t spend your entire trip with your face glued to the viewfinder. Remember to enjoy the moment.